Search This Blog

Friday, March 8, 2013

Plank Power

Who needs crunches!?
The practice of yoga is 5,000 years old.  I knew that!  And as Wikipedia and the other internet info centers mentions, no one knows who created yoga because 5,000 years ago because human beings weren’t putting pen to paper quite yet to record that.  The traditional purpose of Yoga, I’ve found out, has always been to bring about a profound transformation in the person through the transcendence of the ego.

Hmm…then explain to me why, in recent months, I’ve noticed that
the yoga plank has become an important measure of strength and masculine competition. This goes against everything I’ve learned about humility and spirituality-as it relates to exercise anyway.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a doctor friend who told me he gets through definitely one, usually two songs, in their entirety on his iPod while holding a plank pose and is trying for more. I found this confusing because my belief has always been that once a plank can be held for 2 minutes, what’s the point?  The next progression is to “load it up.”  

Last weekend, I read a recent Shape magazine article on the 50 hottest trainers in America. By hottest they weren’t talking outstanding program design or most dramatic client transformation, no, this was purely a beefcake article (is that word even still used?) The article profiled Shape’s picks for the 50 best looking male personal trainers in the country (I knew several of them-definitely hot) it was sort of like the female answer to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Each trainer had a profile next to their photo that featured cutesy questions like “Favorite Chick flick______ ?”  “Best workout song_____,” etc.(fascinating stuff) and the question everyone was dying to know…. “longest you’ve ever held a plank.” 

For the record, the current world record (according to Guinness World Records) for the plank position is 1 hour 20 minutes and 5.01 seconds, set in Naperville, IL on 3 December 2011 by 54 year old George Hood. Thank you Wikipedia.

In yoga, plank pose is typically the first arm balance movement performed in one’s practice and is used during the warm up and sun salutation asanas.  It strengthens the arms and wrists (when done from the hands), tones the legs, back and core muscles, creates awareness of body alignment and depending on where you place it in your routine, prepares the body for more strenuous activity.

I began borrowing this exercise from yoga a number of years ago because, well, after your first 60 second plank, you’re never the same.  Its benefits become instantly obvious and the variations are endless.  I do keep them to 2 minutes and then I “load ‘em up!” What does that mean?  Here are some of the variations you can do once you’ve passed the 2 minutes mark (in no particular order of difficulty):

  • ·        With elbows on a Bosu ball
  • ·        With a 25 lb. plate on your upper back (or heavier)
  • ·        With chains draped over your shoulders
  • ·        With hands on an upside down Bosu ball
  • ·        With flexed feet toes on top of a medicine ball
  •         With a rubber resistance band around the low back (done from the hands not                       elbows.) When done from the hands, it's called a "pillar."
  • ·        With feet in a suspension trainer (I use the CrossCore180.)
  • ·        Side planks-with scissor-ed feet or with feet in suspension trainer
  • ·        Body saw
  • ·        Valslides Superplank
  • ·        With elbows in close and above shoulder height while pushing through heels
  • ·        Stability ball plank
  • ·        Stir the pot
  • ·        Side plank while rowing with a rubber resistance band
  • ·        Front plank while rowing from overhead with a rubber resistance band\
  • ·        Reach around side plank (with or without a weight)
  • ·        T-Push-up
  • ·        With hands (one or both) on a medicine ball
  •         Up and down plank
  •         Renegade rows
  • ·        With elbows on bench, feet on a stability ball and vice versa

With crunches practically banished by the fitness community (most of the time, for the best), it’s good to know there are so many options for static ab work.  Dynamic ab training is also essential. It’s important to do both.  More on dynamic ab training coming soon!

You have permission to do so, free of charge, as long as the byline and
the article is included in its entirety:

Fitness expert and integrative performance coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

If you use the article you are required to activate any links found in the article and the by-line. Please do not use this article in any publication that is not opt-in (spam).


Post a Comment